UAMS Sees Changes in Patient Care, Education, Research in 2017

By Ben Boulden

In late December that University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbit will recommend to the UA Board of Trustees that Cam Patterson, M.D., be the next UAMS chancellor. The board will meet by telephone to consider the appointment after the holiday break.

Patterson, currently senior vice president and chief operating officer at Weill-Cornell Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, is expected to join UAMS June 1 after seeing a major construction project on that campus through completion.

The other finalist, Stephanie F. Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., interim chancellor, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost at UAMS, will continue to lead the institution through the transition created when Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., retired July 31.

The University of Arkansas Board of Trustees voted in May to honor Rahn by naming the building that houses the College of Nursing, the College of Pharmacy, the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health and part of the College of Medicine as the Daniel W. Rahn Interprofessional Education Building. It was dedicated in July in a public ceremony.

In May, UAMS opened a new, $10 million Family Medical Center on the UAMS West Regional Campus in Fort Smith. On the eastern side of the state in November, the university opened another Family Medical Center in Helena on the UAMS East Regional Campus, as part of its strategic efforts to expand its scope of clinical and educational services in the Delta.

Research funding at UAMS grew 53 percent during the last fiscal year, contributing to the Arkansas economy and bringing the potential to grow new businesses. From $111.6 million in fiscal year 2016 to $170.6 million in fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30, the total amount of grant awards received by UAMS for medical and basic scientific research surged strongly.

Other major developments and accomplishments include:


  • UAMS and Baptist Health in August announced a statement of strategic intent, reflecting the commitment of the two health organizations to offering a wider range of educational opportunities and deliver clinical care more efficiently. Both institutions retain their separate and unique identities. The newly formed Baptist Health/UAMS Accountable Care Alliance will coordinate effective, high-quality care for patients receiving Medicare, initially caring for 50,000 Arkansans starting in 2018.
  • The American College of Surgeons in April certified the UAMS Medical Center as an adult Level 1 Trauma Center, the only medical center in Arkansas to earn that status. To achieve the certification, hospitals go through a rigorous review process and must demonstrate they can provide the highest level of trauma care for the most serious and urgent cases.
  • Of the 308 Arkansas physicians named in May to the 2017 Best Doctors in America list, nearly 200 are on staff at UAMS. Best Doctors Inc., a health care information service company, formulated the list through a polling method that gathers opinions from thousands of doctors across the country. Physicians cannot pay to be included in the database and are not paid to provide input.
  • The Arkansas State Senate in March recognized UAMS for it work to address health care disparities in diabetes among the Marshallese population in northwest Arkansas. A Senate Resolution commended three Northwest Regional Campus faculty members for creating and implementing the Family Model of Diabetes Self-Management Education to improve patient outcomes among the Marshallese in northwest Arkansas.
  • Five regional UAMS Family Medical Centers and four UAMS primary care clinics in Little Rock in February joined more than 2,900 primary care practices nationwide in a partnership between payers and providers. Called Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+), the partnership is designed to provide access to quality health care at lower costs and will provide primary care practices with additional payment to improve coordination of care. CPC+ is administered by the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation.


  • At Match Day 2017 for the first time in several years, all of the graduating class of the UAMS College of Medicine“matched” with a residency after medical school. On March 17, senior medical students simultaneously across the nation opened the envelopes to reveal where they had matched to complete their residencies for the next three to seven years.
  • UAMS in August was reaccredited for another 10 years by the Higher Learning Commission,  the regional accrediting body for higher education institutions. Accreditation enables students to transfer credits and degrees to other accredited colleges and universities, and many organizations that offer professional licensure require graduates come from accredited institutions. Accreditation is also required for students to receive federal financial aid.
  • For the fifth time in nine years, UAMS in February was ranked in the top 10 nationwide for the percentage of its graduating class to pursue family medicine. In the latest ranking, the UAMS College of Medicine was listed seventh in the nation by the American Academy of Family Physicians. UAMS was included on the ranking of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) programs.
  • UAMS created programs for three new degrees and a certificate in biomedical informatics to help professionals assess and manage large sets of medical and public health information. The Arkansas Department of Higher Education approved the three graduate degrees — Doctorate of Philosophy, Master of Science and Professional Master’s — and a Graduate Certificate Program in biomedical informatics at UAMS. The state’s approval of these advanced biomedical informatics degrees will position the university to be a national leader in one of the fastest- growing research fields.
  • The Home-Centered Care Institute chose UAMS as one of eight Centers of Excellence for its Home-Based Primary Care program, a first-of-its-kind program designed to make high-quality, home-based primary care a more common practice across the United States. The institute’s curriculum will be used to help train future house-call physicians how to build medical teams going to the homes. Jasmine Brathwaite, M.D., who leads the House Call Program through the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, will be one of four instructors who will teach it and lead the initiative.


  • Mark Smeltzer, Ph.D., professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, in June was awarded $11 million in federal funding for Phase II of a program that supports microbiology and immunology research. Phase I of the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health in 2012 at $10 million. The first COBRE grant allowed Smeltzer to establish the UAMS Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Inflammatory Responses. Its focus is pathogens – bacteria, viruses and microorganisms – and the disease responses they cause in humans.
  • The National Cancer Institute has awarded an $8.3 million grant to UAMS for expansion and enhancement of an archive containing freely accessible cancer medical images and data. The Cancer Imaging Archive is a free online service that hosts a large collection of cancer-related medical images available for public download. Since its formation about seven years ago, archive data has been used to produce almost 500 academic papers.
  • Led by UAMS researchers, a new clinical study called STAMPOUT aims to help a drug user stay in treatment by keeping the effects of the drug from going into the brain. In October, the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded the InterveXion/UAMS research team an $8 million, three-year grant to fund STAMPOUT (Study of Antibody for Methamphetamine Outpatient Therapy). This will be the first clinical study in methamphetamine users of a medication developed specifically for patients who are meth users.
  • A UAMS scientist reached a status few achieve by being awarded his third concurrent R01-type Research Project Grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Daohong Zhou, M.D., received the $1.8 million grant to support his research on a therapy to prevent and possibly reverse a lung disease found in patients who undergo radiation therapy for cancer. Zhou is associate director for basic research in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and a professor in the UAMS College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  • The Arkansas Center for Health Disparities at UAMS in October was awarded a $7 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for research on minority health disparities, including reducing tobacco smoke exposure among children in the Delta and studying HIV prevention among incarcerated African-Americans. The grant was awarded by the NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.